Since becoming a Christian, the Easter holiday has always been a time of great encouragement. I'm sure the same for many of you. Of course, the very reason for which we celebrate Easter - Christ's death, burial and resurrection - is the primary reason. Yet, there was also everything that comes along with it - the bright colored outfits for church, Easter dinner spread and sweets and the extended fellowship with believers. There was some change to this with moving to Japan 3 years ago. Yet, the main focus of celebrating the resurrected life of Jesus and in turn our new life was still present.
Amidst COVID-19 social distancing, larger gatherings being limited (i.e. church) and quarantine, I asked myself the question:
"What will Easter look like this year?"
Our Japanese church family, Denen Grace Chapel, is utilizing Zoom for Sunday services for the month of April and the foreseeable future. "Man, Easter is going to look pretty strange this year," I thought.
I saw ahead on the preaching calendar a few months earlier, that I was scheduled to preach this Easter. Preaching is something I genuinely enjoy and to discover we would be doing this virtually brought that extra level of strangeness and frankly, disappointment.
So, how did Easter 2020 turnout?
Here are three encouragements from our Easter Sunday 2020:
Virtual Message: The Lord was kind in allowing our Japanese church family one Sunday (4/5) of practice via Zoom "gathering together" in light of our current quarantine. This allowed our church members to see the possibility of gathering in a virtual way. This also allows for many of the men and women Lindsay and I have been discipling the last few years of "attending" online who wouldn't normally attend an actual church service. This past Sunday (4/12) there were 38 log-ins via Zoom, which estimated was roughly 60+ attendees - a good chunk of whom are non-Christian! This was a great encouragement. I preached from Mark 16 and 1 Corinthians 15, which details the great news of Jesus's resurrection and its implications for our lives today.
Egg Evangelism: We've been meeting most of our contacts in public parks rather than our home in recent days trying to follow social distancing orders. After wrapping up our "Zoom Church Service" a friend of Lindsay's, a non-Christian attending her Bible Study, invited our family to the park for an Easter Egg Hunt. Nothing earth shattering to report. Yet, just another opportunity to build upon this sweet friendship as we share the hope found in our resurrected Savior. She logged into the service that morning, so we had an opportunity to follow up and hear her impressions.
Video Connection: Later that evening I had the opportunity to video chat with a friend of mine who signed onto the morning service. He is not a believer and was able to share his reflections. We then spent the rest of the time showing each other our kids bouncing off the walls in our respective living rooms. Truly a sweet time with this dear friend.
Was it a normal Easter? No. Not at all.
But, wow, was it blessed.
How did you see the Lord working Easter Sunday this year amidst this unusual time?